Looking out for rights
I am still perplexed about the House of Cannabis that has legally opened next door to the church in Twisp. The state legislators put guidelines on the locations for pot shops. They made a law saying that a pot shop would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of certain places where children gather. Those certain places include schools and recreation centers.
But only schools that are under the jurisdiction of the state superintendent and recreation centers that are operated by licensed charitable organizations. A church and a charitable organization are licensed separately and distinctly. So a church is not a charitable organization and a charitable organization cannot be a church. So this means that when children gather at a mosque, synagogue, temple or church they are legally denied the protection given to children who gather at places which have no faith affiliation. By definition an organization which does not allow for faith would be considered atheistic.
Of course our public schools and charitable organizations have plenty of faith-filled people within them, but the organization itself must be void of any religious influence or it could be said, atheistic in design and operation. So let this sink in, the state of Washington will only provide preemptive protection for children who gather at atheistic venues. That sounds to me as if the state has adopted atheism as its belief system and those who choose theism are punished for believing. So while you battle to keep your Second Amendment rights, make sure that your First Amendment rights aren’t slipping away unnoticed.
David Hodgin, Winthrop
I hurt myself on a weekend — badly. I thought it would get better overnight, but in the morning I couldn’t walk. But I could crawl to the computer and our wonderful bulletin board to ask to rent crutches. Within minutes, the phone rang, and Neile and Roberta Riebe not only said they had some, but were on their way. In less than an hour I was mobile, able to cook and get to the bathroom, and the animals were fed. They refused money.
And they are neighbors. I’d never met them. But I will never forget them.
Joan Winsor, Winthrop
I want to thank you for the inspiring story “Blind faith” about Julie Hensley’s sudden blindness at an early age. I thought it was inspirational for others dealing with what seem to be insurmountable struggles in their lives. She was able to persevere through the bad times with the help of family and friends, and went on to live a fulfilling life. I hope to see more stories like this one in the newspaper.
Diana McAdow, Winthrop
No to grizzlies
I am responding to a recent article about grizzlies after returning from a family reunion from out of state. I am opposed to reinstating grizzlies (they keep the normal propagations of what they have) but we should focus on the mule deer multiplying instead, over the introduction of black bear, mountain lions and wolves. The mule deer have declined horribly. Back to grizzlies — take care of the bears normally, rather than relocating them to the North Cascades and then easily spreading to and throughout the Methow Valley. Therefore I’m all for Alternative A, continuation of the existing situation.
You say grizzlies roamed the North Cascades over 1,000 years ago. As recently as 150 years ago there weren’t any farmers, settlers or ranchers either. Today there is, along with nature people, hikers and hunters, people who put down roots and live in the forests. It’s just common sense. Somehow I can’t see that because they aren’t introduced to the North Cascades, they will become extinct. What about Canada, Montana, Glacier and Yellowstone parks? Let alone the Colorado Rockies.
Even one person killed by a grizzly is one too many. Keep them high up and enough good to accommodate them. Oversee them, but don’t bring the grizzlies, adding more concerns to ranchers, farmers and homeowners.
Dick Rohde, Seattle
Better leadership needed
Voters in the district may not be aware of the irresponsible decisions made by Okanogan County Fire District 6 commissioners which have and will impact future operations.
• Poor real estate decisions. Earnest money was put down on property without contingencies — $15,000 was forfeited. The Horizon Flats property was purchased at the height of the property market without analysis of the impact on neighbors, compliance with Washington State Department of Transportation regulations for emergency vehicles at schools and public areas, and travel time to Highway 20.
Insurance companies now are beginning to evaluate how quickly a fire department can reach properties; thereby increasing the difficulty of many residents to purchase homeowner’s insurance. There is a site committee minority analysis which did not approve this site. The grant to contribute towards part of the building, plus the $800,000 in tax funds, opens up alternatives to consider other sites.
• Relying on suppliers to develop equipment purchase specifications is costly and results in the district paying higher equipment costs and few other bids are received. For the last few years, the only equipment bidder has been the same supplier. A few years ago another emergency provider who had prepared their own specifications paid much less than District 6 for a similar unit from another supplier.
• Failure to use lawyers to review contracts. A variety of employment contracts have been approved by the commissioners without separate legal review.
• Failure to work with local water purveyors. The recent Twisp fire points out the need for testing of all the hydrants. With the ages of the Twisp and Winthrop water systems, it’s reasonable to assume that testing of all hydrants would have been a priority.
• Not updating existing locations. With a surplus of funds over the past few years, the Carlton and Mazama locations have neither been updated nor improved. Stationing a pumper unit command vehicle (which they won’t purchase) would reduce response time significantly.
Volunteers do need a new station but the commissioners need to produce enlightened leadership to accommodate them.
Duncan Bronson, Winthrop
Upon reaching into my post office box, I brought out some interesting information involving the valley-wide signage regarding this highly sought-after position of Okanogan County Fire District 6 commission. Not knowing the real facts there were entertained in said letter, I’m totally confused. Is there any chance of these two valley residents to have a community forum to discuss, one-on-one, the real facts regarding this hype?
Donn Walvatne, Twisp
Small town politics is alive and well in the Methow. Don’t be fooled by the flyer we all received regarding Okanogan County Fire District 6 with the fiscal scare tactics and the statement about us being “in a mess.” These are the same individuals who want us to turn back the clock and function like we did 50 years ago. Well, time marches on and the Methow Valley continues to change.
Of course our Fire District 6 budget is bigger and spending is higher than other districts. That is because the value of real estate in our district is about 45% of the total real estate value in the entire county! The thing to remember is that our tax is based on real estate valuation. The bigger your house/property the more you are taxed. If you rent you don’t pay any Fire District 6 taxes!
As far as being in a mess, we just don’t see that. As our population and housing grows and we have increased danger of wildfires due to climate change, our fire district needs to keep up with staffing, professional firefighting techniques, a facility that will function to support our growing needs, and most importantly a commissioner that supports all of that.
Do you want a fire district commissioner who currently collaborates, is professional, and works as a team member to come up with viable solutions to problems, and that the majority of our volunteer firefighters support, or would you rather have a commissioner who operates under the “my way or the highway” mentality?
Re-elect Darold Brandenburg.
Linda and Dalton Du Lac, Winthrop